Rituxan and Rituxan with Gemcitabine for Hodgkin’s Disease

Until recently rituximab, or Rituxan has been thought of as a drug for Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Rituxan® is a monoclonal antibody approved for treatment of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL) and binds to a lymphoma surface molecule called CD 20. A small subset of patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma (3% to 8%) has a type of cancer called CD 20 lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma, characterized by a large proportion of their cancer cells expressing CD 20. Patients with CD 20 lymphocyte predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma tend to have a higher rate of recurrence following standard therapy against Hodgkin’s lymphoma than other patients with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. According to results recently published in the journal Blood, Rituxan® (rituximab) appears to be a promising agent in the treatment of some patients with recurrent Hodgkin’s.

NCCN on p. HODG-E says that Rituxan should be considered for all patients with relapsed Hodgkin’s disease. It recommends it with ABVD for Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin’s in first line. It does not address other combination chemotherapy with Rituxan.

Gemcitabine has been combined with Rituxin and with rituximab and other drugs in studies for relapsed Hodgkin’s. These two drugs together in several phase II studies appear to be “mildly” active and well tolerated.

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